Queen’s Speech Briefing 2022
Date posted: 10th May 2022
The Queen’s Speech, delivered by HRH The Prince of Wales, on 10 May 2022, sets out the priorities of the Government for the 2022/2023 Parliamentary year. It is delivered as part of the State Opening of Parliament.
As more details of policies are released, Thomas Pocklington Trust will provide more briefings on specific policies. If you’d like to hear about them, sign up to our campaigns newsletter below.
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Top lines for blind and partially sighted people:
We have analysed the Queen’s Speech proposals to pick up key issues for blind and partially sighted people and sight loss organisations.
- Transport Bill: railways – this will create a new body, Great British Railways, with the powers to act as the single national leader of the railways and to deliver a customer-focused railway, including by improving accessibility and promoting open data. We will be campaigning to ensure this includes quality passenger assistance, effective audio announcements, stations that are easy to navigate, and accessible ways to book tickets in person, online and via the phone.
- Transport Bill: self-driving vehicles – the Government announced that it plans to introduce changes to the Highway Code to provide for self-driving cars on Britain’s roads. Self-driving and automated vehicles could provide a transformational experience for blind and partially sighted people and we will be campaigning to ensure that accessibility is built into new regulations. It will be important, too, that laws on self-driving vehicles put safety first and foremost and that includes protecting the needs of people with sensory impairments.
- Transport Bill: e-scooters – the Government plans to introduce legislation to allow the regulation of private e-scooters, make them safer and “support innovation”. This is likely to enable powers to stipulate that all e-scooters sold meet certain standards concerning speed, power and lights, etc. This is something we welcome as an important opportunity to regulate the e-scooter market, where an estimated 750,000+ e-scooters are being used across the UK. We will be pushing for the highest possible safety and design standards to protect the interests of blind and partially sighted people.
- Schools Bill – the Government wants to ensure that funding is allocated on a fair and consistent basis for all schools wherever they are so all schools deliver better outcomes for their pupils. We will be pushing for this to include tackling the inequalities in the system for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) children and young people. Reform and investment in SEND services will be critical in helping to deliver better life chances for blind and partially sighted children and young people.
- Media Bill – the Government will introduce a wide-ranging Bill on the media. As part of this, it has said it would work with Ofcom on legislative proposals to address the divergence in the provision of access services such as subtitles and audio descriptions between broadcast and on-demand services.
- Procurement Bill – this was a piece of post-Brexit legislation aimed at replacing rules on how the government buys services from the private sector. Far too often, public services remain inaccessible to blind and partially sighted people, and when the private sector delivers public services, the requirement to take accessibility into account seems to be widely ignored. We’re keen to ensure that accessibility is designed from the outset and that should be placed at the centre of any Procurement Bill.
- Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill – this will include giving councils the ability to make the pavement cafes which sprang up during the Covid-19 pandemic a permanent part of the town and city centre landscape. Without careful planning and consultation this can impact on the utility of pavements and restrict the ability of blind and partially sighted people and others to navigate our streets free of obstacles.
- Pavement Parking – we’re disappointed that the Queen’s Speech did not propose legislation to give councils the powers to tackle the problem of pavement parking, which presents a danger to all pedestrians and especially blind and partially sighted people. We will be urging the Government to take action on this.
Thomas Pocklington Trust runs a range of campaigns to raise awareness and tackle the issues facing blind and partially sighted people. To find out more about these, click below.
Our priority national campaigns